I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wait, I'm not supposed to say "pants?"

Sometimes it's glaringly clear to me that I'm a small-town girl from Iowa.

Like when any non-Midwesterner laughs at me for calling soda “pop.” Or when, in a bigger city, I attempt to smile at a passerby only to get either a) the head-down, averted-eyes reaction or b) the “What're you looking at?” furrowed brow.

But my biggest “Whoa, I really am Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm!” realization took place during my first few days in London, when, as a college junior, I spent a semester studying abroad. From serious street-crossing confusion to trying to figure out their coins to getting scolded for calling my jeans “pants” instead of trousers”...I just didn't fit in at the beginning.

Which wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that it felt like all the rest of the study abroad students came more prepared than me! Seemed like they'd all packed knowing black is the color in London. In contrast, yeah, pretty sure Rainbow Brite would've approved of my suitcase contents. Others were already throwing around British words like “knackered” and “rubbish.” And was I seriously the only one to halfway hyperventilate when I realized I'd need to master the Underground system?
The Underground...looks confusing, right?!

I felt so...behind.

Many writers, I'm sure, understand that feeling. How easy it is to look at other writers around us and think, “I'm the tortoise, they're the hare and, forget Aesop, the hare is totally gonna win!” We look at the authors who snagged an agent years ago or the ones who seem to have all the connections or, sheesh, how about the ones with the already-recognizable names...and we (okay, I) feel like a cloddish Clydesdale plodding in the dusty wake of a hundred wild stallions.

It's a discouraging feeling, yes.


Can you think of a single Biblical hero or heroine who started out “ahead of the game?” Go ahead, think about it. We've got...

...Noah: a laughingstock among his peers
...Moses: not all that great of a public speaker
...Esther: both parents dead
...David: lowly shepherd
...Joseph: despised by his brother, accused of crimes he didn't commit
...Mary: practically a child, reputation soiled by her pregnancy
...Matthew: not-so-popular tax collector
...Peter: brash and mouthy
...Paul: a murderer of Christians

That list barely scratches the surface of the flawed, “back of the pack” people God chose to work through in Biblical times. And you know what, he'll do the same today through us writers...no matter how far behind we might feel, no matter how we might compare ourselves to others.

It's the simple, crazy truth that God, in his perfect time, is more than capable of giving a great, big push to the ones who need it most.

So whatever finish line you're reaching for – a finished manuscript, interested agent or editor, published book – hang in there. If you're feeling "behind," just remember you're in good company! Besides, if I can learn to say "trousers," anything's possible, right? :)

Melissa Tagg


  1. Thanks for the encouraging post! I looked at that map and thought, "I'd so be sitting on a curb (if they have curbs in London) boo-hooing." I have felt behind often. What a great reminder that everything is in God's timing!

  2. Such an encouraging post, MTagg. I burst out laughing at the Rainbow Brite reference.

    Yesterday at church our pastor reminded us that God uses each of us differently. For some, He uses their strengths. For others, He uses their weaknesses. Regardless, if we open our hearts and our minds, He will use us for His purpose. I love how He takes ordinary people and uses them for His extraordinary purposes.

    By the way, check out Beth's blog for exciting news...www.bethvogt.blogspot.com

  3. Ooops, Beth's blog is www.bethkvogt.blogspot.com

    I forgot the K. Silly Lisa!

  4. Melissa,
    Your blog post is so timely!
    Yes, I believe anything is possible. There are days--weeks, months--I feel so behind. And yet today I'm celebrating landing a contract! I'm still beyond flabbergasted at God's grace. I know I've got a lot of hard work left to do (aka revisions) but I am so excited! Looking forward to cheering others on to success!

  5. Melissa, your post resonated with me! Just this morning, I was driving home from an appointment and remembering our time at DT. Comparing myself to others' strengths (BTW, I'm usually comparing my weaknesses to others' strengths. Nuff said), and thinking about how "behind" I am in the writing journey compared to most writers I know. Thanks for reminding me that God uses and works in and through those who are "behind." I need to remember that God is doing a work in me, in this place of "behind," and His work is always perfected in His time. Thanks for the reminder. And congratulations on using the word, "trouser." :)

  6. Great post! I like your approach of being who you are instead of trying to fit in for the sake of fitting in. And, if I ever say the word "knackered," someone please slap me.

  7. Great post, Melissa! Just what I needed to hear today!

  8. Wonderful post, Melissa! Thanks for the encouragement. :-)

  9. Great post! That must have been an interesting experience and I'm sure there alot more stories about your schooling abroad. It's amazing how different things are in other countries. Very encouraging.

  10. Melissa, I'm enjoying visiting in Beth's home and totally blanked on rdg. this yesterday, but I LOVE this. Such quality writing and so encouraging. You are someone very special. Many thanks. This is a blessing!

  11. Wow! London. I am so proud of you! One look at that map and I'd be like Jessica--sitting on the curb in tears.

    Thank you for such an encouraging post. It truly lifted my spirits today...almost a month after you wrote it. Don't know how I missed it back on the 9th.

  12. I loved reading this! I currently live in England. My husband is active duty. We've been here 3 years and have 3 more to go. We have learned a LOT of new words, some pleasant, some not. The first time I heard "Knackered", I thought the person had said "Naked" which really confused me since they were fully dressed. My children attend the British School and say things like; rubbish (trash), trousers (jeans) if you say "pants" they think you are talking about "Knickers", plait (braid), bloody (they use it for everything!), rubber (eraser), and more! I have by the grace of God learned how to use the underground or tube system, the trains, the buses, and believe it or not I actually drive my own car! I was so scared at first, but now it's my new normal. I plan to visit home for a month this summer as my husband will deploy for 6 months come July and I am nervous about driving state-side! Thanks for the smile Melissa!